For Gulshan Kumar, the owner of Rangoli Grill in Westford, the Hindu festival of lights known as Diwali is an important autumn holiday. Diwali honors the seventh incarnation of the god Vishnu and, this year, it will be celebrated on Nov. 7 in the United States.
“Everybody lights candles, and there are also all kinds of different lights,” Kumar says. He notes that more than a billion people — about 15 percent of the world’s population — will observe the festival.
If you look at a NASA satellite image of India during the festival, it will look as though every house in the country is lit up, according to Kumar. “It’s a beautiful sight,” he says.
The festival is a time for lights, and for sharing traditional Indian/Hindu food. “During this time of the year, Indian households cook special dishes to eat and share with friends,” he says. “A big part is the preparation of Indian-style sweets — no one is counting calories this time of year!”
Gulshan and his wife, Rashmi, who is also Rangoli Grill’s executive chef, chose two dishes for this holiday season’s installment of mvm’s “Holiday Home Cooking.”
This year is especially significant for the Kumars, whose daughter, Neha, was married in mid-October. Thus, they have shared a recipe for barfi, a traditional Indian sweet that is often a part of wedding banquets, as well as another dish, appropriate for Diwali celebrations.
Everyday Milk Barfi ( pictured above )
1 cup whole milk
3 cups milk powder
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup ghee (clarified butter)
1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
3 tablespoons pistachios, chopped
1. In a large wok on medium heat, mix the milk and ghee, and then add the milk powder while stirring. Stir for about 2 minutes.
2. Now add the sugar and continue to stir, making sure all the sugar has dissolved and no lumps have formed.
3. Turn the flame to low and continuously stir until the milk thickens and starts to form a doughlike consistency. Remove from the heat and add the cardamom powder and mix well.
4. Transfer the prepared dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Using a spatula, spread the dough toward the outer edges of the sheet until you have a block about 1/2-inch thick. Spread the chopped pistachios and press them slightly into the dough and set aside for about 2 to 3 hours until it sets completely.
5. Using a kitchen knife, cut the milk barfi into small squares, about 2 by 2 inches each, and serve. Refrigerate the remaining pieces to enjoy later. Let stand at room temperature for a few minutes before serving again.
1 pound split green gram lentils (moong dal)
1/2 pound split black gram lentils (urad dal)
1 tablespoon cumin powder
1/8 teaspoon asafetida powder
1/8 teaspoon ginger powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole milk yogurt
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon powdered sugar
Oil for deep frying
Water for soaking lentils
Ready-to-use bottled mint-coriander (green) chutney
Ready-to-use bottled tamarind chutney
1. Mix the dry lentils in a pot and soak in water
4 to 5 hours. Transfer to a food processor and grind the mixture into a smooth batter. Transfer into a mixing bowl. Add the cumin powder, asafetida, ginger powder and salt. Using a whisk, mix the batter until it achieves a fluffy consistency.
2. In a large wok, heat the oil. Form the batter into sphere shapes, using about 2 tablespoons of the mixture for each. One at a time, drop them into medium-hot oil to deep fry. Turn each bhalla in the oil a few times until they are evenly cooked, then soak the fried bhallas in cold water for about 20 minutes.
3. Squeeze out the water and flatten the bhallas with your hands. The bhallas are now ready
4. Separately, ahead of time, whisk yogurt in a mixing bowl, add water and sugar, and mix well and refrigerate.
5. When ready to eat, take 2 to 3 bhallas on a plate, spread the yogurt all over and add the two chutneys over the top a little bit, according to taste. Spread a pinch of the chaat masala on the bhallas and enjoy!
Check back during the Holidays for more installments of ‘Holiday Home Cooking’ with The Chowder Factory, Copper Door and Lowell Burger Company.